RYAN M. SCHIFF, Jay D. Blitzman Youth Advocacy Award. The Jay D. Blitzman Award for Youth Advocacy is presented to a person who has demonstrated a commitment to juvenile rights, which is the hallmark of Judge Blitzman’s long career as an advocate. The award honors an advocate who has exhibited both extraordinary dedication and excellent performance to assure that children accused of criminal conduct, or otherwise at risk, are treated fairly and with dignity in the courtroom, in the community, and in the custody of the state.
Justice Louis Brandeis once commented “Sunlight is said to be the best of disinfectants…” Ryan Schiff has earned this year’s Blitzman Award because of the powerful sunlight he has brought to the juvenile justice system as the Director of Juvenile Appeals for CPCS.
Ryan has natural credentials for the role: six years as a CPCS Staff Attorney for Special Litigation and seven years in criminal defense practice in Boston. As Staff Attorney, Ryan won Commonwealth v. Hanson H., which spared juveniles the scarlet letter of being ordered to wear a GPS device when found delinquent of sex offenses.
Three especially bright rays of sunlight are testaments to Ryan’s work and why he has earned this award. First, Ryan has successfully increased the total number of juvenile direct appeals. Second and relatedly, Ryan has fostered a dedicated group of juvenile specialist appellate attorneys to ensure that the rehabilitative guarantee of the Juvenile Court is real. This group works not only after adjudication, but to also set issues up for appeal at the trial level, and, if necessary, to shine the SJC’s extraordinary power of superintendence into egregious or systemic errors or abuses. Ryan brings an inspiring dedication to mentoring and encouraging initiative and enthusiasm on his team’s part. Finally, Ryan dedicated himself tirelessly to amicus curiae briefing for the Youth Advocacy Division.
Much as Ryan has brought sunlight to the juvenile justice system, we hope the sun shines brightly over Ryan in the fields and mountains of the Pioneer Valley of Western Massachusetts that he and his beloved family call home.